Pakistani films need to be shown in India: Zinda Bhaag makers

Published: October 29, 2013
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Makers of Zinda Bhaag are hopeful that the film will be welcomed with open arms in India. PHOTO: FILE

Makers of Zinda Bhaag are hopeful that the film will be welcomed with open arms in India. PHOTO: FILE

ABU DHABI: A shared culture and matching sensibility make India a promising destination for screening films from across the border, say Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, co-directors of highly-acclaimed Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag.

Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah-starrer Zinda Bhaag is the first Pakistani movie to be sent for the Oscars in the last 50 years. In 2008, Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye was released commercially in India, making it the first Pakistani film to release across the border after 43 years. It was followed by Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani. In 2011, Indian audiences were treated to Mansoor’s Bol.

Now, the makers of Zinda Bhaag are hoping that the film, based on illegal immigration, will be welcomed with open arms in India. “I really think Pakistani films need to be [regularly] shown in India. That needs to happen,” Gaur, who was in the city with Nabi for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), told IANS.

Zinda Bhaag was screened at the ADFF. It was appreciated for its local Lahori flavour, punchy dialogues and natural acting and for showcasing an issue as sensitive as the clamour of the youth to settle in a foreign land by hook or by crook, in a light-hearted but convincing manner.

Gaur believes the film, which took over “two years and roughly $500,000 to make”, has the ability to strike a chord with Indian audiences for more reasons than one. “If there is any country that this film transcends seamlessly in, it is India. In India’s Punjab, too, illegal immigration is as prevalent as it is in Pakistan’s Punjab. So it is a story that will easily appeal [to the Indian audience]. We are very excited about a possible release in India,” said the film-maker, an Indian married to Zinda Bhaag producer Imran Zaidi.

Nabi, who is happy that his film has been able to make it to various screens in Pakistan and the US said, “We are in our fifth week in Pakistani theatres. In the US, it’s in the second week. It has released in around 10 cities. It will be followed by Canada, and hopefully India soon.”

He revealed that a recent limited screening of Zinda Bhaag in Delhi evoked a positive sentiment. “The people said this can be any mohalla of Delhi and a lot of people said subtitles are not needed. There is an instant connect in Delhi with the story and characters, which are based in Lahore,” Nabi added.

Cultural exchange lies at the heart of their film, for which they used around five crew members from India. It has a pivotal role essayed by veteran Indian actor Naseer, who even held a week’s workshop for the first-time actors who play protagonists in the film.

“When we decided to have some crew members from India for ‘Zinda Bhaag’, we took a very deliberate decision. The practice in Pakistan is to get crews from cities like Bangkok but we chose India and the reason was clear.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Guru
    Oct 29, 2013 - 6:51PM

    No Thanks

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  • KitKat
    Oct 29, 2013 - 7:39PM

    Why not, including action pack thriller Waar.

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  • lol
    Oct 29, 2013 - 9:31PM

    ohh plz…. ur LOL films of lolywood …plz keep it to ur self……paki films should not be shown here at all……

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  • Raj - USA
    Oct 29, 2013 - 10:04PM

    I think Waar should be screened in India. I would like to watch it here in USA but it is not screened anywhere here. I saw the trailers and think it would be a good movie. I don’t care it it has an anti-india theme, as long as the movie is enjoyable and good. Zinda Baag is a sub-standard movie.

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  • Hafiz
    Oct 29, 2013 - 11:19PM

    pakis should watch this movie decade and decade, in india not needed. indian dogs also will not watch it.

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  • Dr Dang
    Oct 30, 2013 - 12:55AM

    If Pakistani movies are finding it hard to compete with Bollywood movies locally. How can you expect to find screen space in India where Bollywood is forever fighting for screens with South Indian & Hollywood movies ?
    Bollywood has a star system, so even if a movie with bad reviews has a superstar in it it will have more viewers.So unless Lollywood produces superstars who are liked in India as well their movies wont find buyers.
    They would need to start of with local language movies & then move up the order to compete with Hindi (Bollywood) movies).Tall order.

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  • Peace
    Oct 30, 2013 - 2:45AM

    Why not? Allmost all Bollywood movies get released in Pakistani cinemas too. They are very popular with the Pakistani masses. And the country’s largest television channel (hint hint, starts with G) promotes almost exclusively Bollywood content while shunning Lollywood. Of course, Bollywood produces excellent stuff but Lollywood’s Oscar-worthy Punjabi movies like this one could attract audiences in Indian Punjab too!

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  • Sid
    Oct 30, 2013 - 4:00AM

    Loved loved Zinda Bhaag. Where can one get the music?Recommend

  • kanwal
    Oct 30, 2013 - 7:12AM

    Its a bit of a disappoitnment to see such negative response in comments from our neighbors. These movies are relevant there too and i dont think any educated and decent indian would dispute that culture can bring us closer. God knows we could use all the closeness there is.

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  • Hmm
    Oct 30, 2013 - 11:59AM

    We are not going through so bad days that we would watch Pak movies , it is like a professor from Afghanistan or Iraq university has been invited to teach us quantum physics. We can’t generate some spare time to watch our movies . You go and show it to ur higher than Himalaya and deeper than ocean friend . I think they would show interest in your movies.

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  • Oct 30, 2013 - 1:00PM

    That amounts to trade.

    But, Indian goods are not available in Pakistan. Pakistan allowed Indian films because theaters were closing down, in this internet age, people could easily download any Bollywood movie and Hollywood one.

    But, movies and theaters and Art as a whole in India is thriving. India needs to do no such thing.

    Let Pakistan grant MFN like India has, until then no Pakistani movies.

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  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2013 - 2:41PM

    ET Mods – The points I am making are directly related to subject matter and/or the comments of a fellow poster. Pls. allow.

    “Now, the makers of Zinda Bhaag are hoping that the film, based on illegal immigration, will be welcomed with open arms in India. “I really think Pakistani films need to be [regularly] shown in India. That needs to happen,” Gaur, who was in the city with Nabi for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), told IANS.”

    This is not an India Pakistan issue but a profit and loss issue. Many Hindi movies – especially those that do not have a big star will not get screen space in south which has 4 film industries of its own. Likewise, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali movies rarely get screened outside their home state.

    So marketing a movie is the producer’s responsibility and its success will depend on how relevant and interesting the total package is to its audience.

    By the way I saw the movie and would have had trouble following the dialog in many places if it wasn’t for the English subtitles since I am not Punjabi. Do you plan to put Hindi subtitles when you screen in India? Very few people in India speak Punjabi you know.

    @Bruteforce: MFN refers to mercantile trade not trade in services. SO the screening of Pakistani movies in India is unrelated to the MFN issue. In any case Bol was shown in India – so there is clearly no ban on screening Pakistani movies

    @kanwal: “These movies are relevant there too and i dont think any educated and decent indian would dispute that culture can bring us closer.”

    Movies are watched by people for entertainment. The relevance of a movie to an audience depends on the content of that specific movie and not whether it is Indian or Pakistani. Please note that out of 1.2 bilion Indians less than 30 million speak Punjabi. A movie should succeed or fail on its own merit and not due to some separate goal such as exchange of culture. Anyway did the India Pakistan cricket matches in 2012 December stop our soldier from getting beheaded in Jan 2003? People to people exchanges were at a peack in 2007 and yet 26/11 happened, did it not?
    I do not oppose the distribution of Pakistani movies in India on principle and I even saw Zinda Bhaag in Dallas. But access to cinema screens to Pakistani movies has to be a business decision and not khairaat. Recommend

  • from pak
    Oct 30, 2013 - 3:23PM

    @gp65:
    Khuda key liye did very well in India. So no reason why Zinda Bhaag will not do well in terms of business. Unless these films are shown in India there is no way to pre-decide whether they will do good business or not?

    Recommend

  • Zen.One
    Oct 30, 2013 - 6:58PM

    Can anyone come up with a better name than this ludicrous ‘Lollywood’ and even not so boisterous ‘Bollywood’ coined terms. Phonetics are just not right and it looks as though we can’t come up with a better indigenous corporate name of local film industry of Pakistan and for that matter, of India. Even the term Bollywood has become superfluous as Bombay is now Mumbai. Points to ponder…?Recommend

  • gp65
    Oct 30, 2013 - 8:27PM

    @Zen.One: Western press kept on referring to Hindi film industry as Bollywood. For years at an end Amitabh Bacchan protested that we were not just a desi version of Hollywood but an industry in our own right. In vain. Eventually he gave up and joined the bandwagon which by then had grown quite big. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-28/news-interviews/328906611london-olympics-amitabh-bachchan-indian-film-industry

    @from pak: Having seen both movies. there were several differences between KKL and ZB:

    1) KKL was in Urdu which is widely understood in India wherever Hindi is understood. ZB is in Punjabi and very few people understand that language.

    2) The premise of KKL i.e. British father not wanting his daugher to marry a foreigner and wanting to marry a coreligionist was much more relatable to Indians than the premise that people would put their lives at risk to emigrate. No doubt many Indians (including me ) have immigrated, aspire to immigrate for economic reason but the degree of desperation where one would risk one’s life to escape – simply does not exist in India.

    Now onto the second point i.e. success of a movie cannot be prejudged before screening – the cinema owners and distributors DO prejudge the success of a film based on star cast, language, content of the movie, the marketing effort being expended by the producer to attract viewers to the cinema. Their judgment may turn out to be right or wrong but they make that judgment. So it is really upto the producers of a movie to convince the distributors to screen the movie initially. Then if the content resonates and shows are full due to word of mouth, more screens will get allotted.

    Cinema owners and chains are business people driven by profits not NGOs trying to promote cultural exchange.

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  • Maula Jatt
    Nov 24, 2013 - 10:37PM

    The Muslim minority in India has the right to be able to see Pakistani movies, as there is great demand among Muslims for Pakistani culture. Hindu Extremists need to take a back seat.

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